After a tough start to his summer seeing two of his three stars either getting traded or signing with another team, it should have felt good for head coach Billy Donovan to find out the the other one opted to stay and even signed a contract extension.
Last week, it was reported that Oklahoma City Thunder superstar guard Russell Westbrook has agreed on a three-year max contract for $85 million to remain with the franchise that drafted him. The surprising development caught a lot of people off-guard, including Donovan, as it was expected that the 6’3″ triple-double machine will wait until next year’s free agency before even negotiating a new contract.
In a recent interview with Erik Horne of The Oklahoman, the 51-year-old admitted that he was caught off guard by the development.
“I didn’t have any idea.”
“We never really talked about any of that stuff, My conversations with Russell were always about the team, next season, what we have to do, how we need to play.”
He also stressed during a press conference last Thursday the importance of having an even better relationship with his star player.
“That’s the most important part, just creating a better bond.”
“I think coming into next year our relationship is in a great spot.”
Even with Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka gone, Thunder fans still have a lot of faith in their team especially now that a new deal with Westbrook has been struck.
It’s just a matter of time now if the combination of him and newly-acquired shooting guard Victor Oladipo will work for the franchise that’s looking to continue the success they’ve had the past couple of years.
One thing’s for sure though, it will be tougher this time around to win the Western Conference, but given Westbrook and Oladipo’s talents, plus the experience of coach Donovan, it’s definitely not impossible.